SKILLS: Children develop problem-solving and science skills as they predict which materials can be used to move water and have fun experimenting with them.
- chart paper and marker
- dish towel, felt, and paper towels
- basters and eye droppers
- water pumps
- two basins, large plastic bowls, or a water table
- plastic straws, variety of plastic tubes, and plastic cups
- empty plastic spray and pump soap containers
- sand (optional for older children)
IN ADVANCE: In addition to these suggested materials, select several different objects, such as wooden blocks, Legos, paintbrushes, and plastic spoons to include in your experiment. Prepare a sheet of chart paper by listing the name of each object.
1 During group time, engage the children in a conversation about how water moves. Ask them to think about water at home. How does water enter their sink? How does water get picked up when it spills? Invite children to think about the different ways water can be moved. Using chart paper, list children's responses.
2 Place all the materials you have collected in the center of your group area. Ask children to look at the materials and predict which ones could be used to move water. Explain to children that they will conduct experiments using different materials to learn about how water can be moved.
3 Invite a group of four to six children to choose several materials to experiment with. Give them a water table or basin. (Children may need some assistance in learning how to use a siphon or plastic straw to draw water.) Help children learn new words that describe how the water is being moved: "Look how the towel absorbs the water." "Suction pulls the water into the baster." Keep a record of each group's materials and the results of their experiments.
4 Give children the opportunity to work with the different materials for several days. At the end of the week, gather children together and discuss their observations.
5 Present the list of materials. Engage the children in a discussion about the different materials they used and the ways in which water could be moved. Record children's observations to document their research.
For younger children: Provide children with sponges of all shapes and sizes. Let them use the sponges to absorb water from a basin, and then fill the empty containers. Which sponges fill the containers more quickly?
For older children: Give children plenty of opportunity to try the same experiments with sand. Which objects move sand more easily? What other objects can they find around the room to move sand from one place to another?
Paint with water and chalk. Provide children with a grater and a variety of colored chalk. Place water in a shallow baking pan and invite children to place the grated chalk into the water and stir it. Then ask them to float a piece of paper on top and watch a painting develop. Encourage children to describe what has happened.